Tagged: Steve Ditko

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: To Sir, With Love… and Craposition

I’ve noticed lately the fine columnists here at ComicMix are paying tribute to a lovely woman I wish I could have met. It got my wheels turning. I’ve done plenty of moaning, groaning, hyping and griping up until now… but I’ve never paid tribute to those who helped shape me as I am. The desire to tell you all about my family is tempting, but it might be more apropos to give some love to special someone who directly changed the course of my career (and all of the subsequent creative endeavors). But enough preamble, eh? I want to pay homage to an amazing educator and mentor… Dean Auriemma.

Mr. Auriemma, or just Mr. A, was my high school art teacher for my sophomore and senior year in high school. Unlike your stereotypical art educator you might think of, he taught those willing to learn that art is a scholarly endeavor as much as math or science. A bit of backstory: The “art track” at my high school was a true four year journey, meant to be taken chronologically, ultimately ending with A.P. (that’s Advanced Placement, or college level) Studio Art. Well, the art bug bit me a year late, so I ended up taking both the junior and senior level courses both in my senior year. It wasn’t unheard of (as I recall one other student joined me in this undertaking), but it was certainly challenging. But I digress.

Mr. A made art hard. For me, this was (and still is) the most exhilarating concept I’ve ever wrapped my head around. You see, I was a very good student. Took all honors classes. Graduated in the top 5% of my class (of over 600 students). I’d happily admit that I coasted throughout High School without sweating over tests, and grades, and memorization. Not that I didn’t work hard mind you, but no class outside of Mr. A’s A.P. Studio Art ever put me in my place quicker. Mr. A never pulled a punch.

During critiques, he would tell me that I couldn’t draw my way out of a paper bag. He said my artistic prowess could best be described as “Craposition”… a term so beloved by the class, we used it as the title to our class mix tape. Best of all? His words rang true, because they absolutely were. I sucked. Beyond the harsh words though, came true support. Mr. Auriemma took time with me to show me where my strengths were, how to hone (and hide) my weaknesses, and explore not only technical proficiency but conceptual development at the same time.

One fond memory that sticks in my craw even today were Mr. A’s dreaded Gallery Journal entries. He forced our class to go to galleries every month and truly look (and write about) art. He challenged us to critique accepted “masterpieces” instead of simply enjoying them. He deconstructed a world most simply adhere to accept. In short, he forced each and every one of his students to take an intellectual leap beyond “I like this.” Most important, when I spoke and wrote of my love of comic books, and that art form, Mr. A did not once scoff. He knew that masters like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, and the modern artists that inspired me like Alex Ross and Mike Mignola, should be studied as much as Renoir, Titian, or Bacon. All art was equal in his class, so long as you could apply the lessons he taught to them.

The best panels and issues of modern comic books utilize complex composition, juxtaposition of focal points, value balance, and harmony all to visually communicate what only a 1000 words might. Again, I can’t hit on this fact enough; where some art teachers hand you a canvas and a brush and tell you to let your mind go wild… Mr. Auriemma did it too, but forced you to use the skills and tools honed over time to produce more than whimsy and feelings.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out Mr. A’s lesson plan. Tough love gave me the drive to do better. His “acceptance” was earned through hard work and dedication. It was a tribute to these abilities that drove so many of us alumni to trek back to the hallowed halls of Homewood-Flossmoor High just so we could show him what we were doing in college. Certainly when Unshaven Comics published its first graphic novel, I raced back to his class room to show that I’d learned to draw out of that paper bag. OK, I won’t lie. Matt drew the first book… I just colored, lettered, and co-wrote it. But like JD looking for that hug from Dr. Cox on Scrubs, I wanted that approving “Good job, buddy” like Courtney Love wants attention.

Not even a few years after I’d been away at college, Mr. Auriemma got his masters in Education, became a top-notch school administrator, and is still to this day (to the best of my knowledge) now a principal. I dare you to find another Art Teacher that took that path. I bet you find a bunch of paint-strained smocks, and some weed.

Suffice to say, Dean Auriemma instilled in me a drive and determination that exists to this day. In fact, I happily admit that my love of A.P. Studio Art was so great, Matt and I still meet every Friday to work on our art projects. We may have grown beards, got wives, had sons, and bought houses… but thanks to Mr. A, we’re still just two kids in class, hoping one day to make it in the business. And if this bit of brown-nosing doesn’t land me that damned ‘A’ I’ve been after… I don’t know what will.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander and Humphrey Bogart

Julie Taymor claims she should get money for ‘Spider-Man’, a character she didn’t create

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 08:  A sign for the Br...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

We only post these stories to remind you that Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko hasn’t received a dime for any of this. And it now looks like there will be more money spent on the lawyers for arguing over who created what for this show than Steve Ditko got for co-creating the character, ever.

NEW YORK (AP) — Director Julie Taymor has hit back at her former creative partners in “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark,” arguing in court papers that she was the victim of a conspiracy to unfairly push her out of the production and that her one-time collaborators were secretly working on a rival script behind her back.

Taymor’s legal team on Friday defended the Tony Award winner against claims in an earlier countersuit from producers, the latest installment in their bitter legal battle over financial rewards for Broadway’s most expensive show.

“While secretly conspiring to oust Taymor and use and change her work without pay, the producers also fraudulently induced Taymor to continue working and to diligently make improvements,” her team alleges.

Taymor, who was the original “Spider-Man” director and co-book writer, was fired in March after years of delays, accidents and critical backlash. The show, which features music by U2’s Bono and The Edge, opened in November 2010 but spent months in previews before officially opening a few days after the Tony Awards in June.

via Julie Taymor claims there was a ‘Spider-Man’ plot – Yahoo! News.

And now Julie knows how Steve Ditko feels.

“The creators of Spider-Man, Storm, and Power Man are unknown”?

We thought this was settled by now. Certainly Marvel Comics should know it. But apparently not. In the recent trade paperback, Spider-Man Fights Substance Abuse, we find this blurb on the credits page:

The creators of Spider-Man, Storm, and Power Man are unknown.

Apparently, Marvel is having some substance abuse problems of their own over there, or this is the latest salvo in the Disneyfication of Marvel where they decide they own everything, and it was all created by nameless workers.

Since some people at Marvel appear to be on drugs themselves, let us make this perfectly clear:

Oh, and while we’re on the subject:

Hopefully, we won’t have to repeat this. But knowing Marvel of late, we probably will have to repeat it. A lot.

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Creators Are People Too

Hot off the lips of far better men and women than I (aka all the other ComicMix columnists) comes a little discussion weighing in on all this legal mumbo-jumbo going on in comic-book-land. Not to be outdone (remember when I lit a wee fire under Michael Davis a few weeks back?), I figured I’d let loose a few witticisms on the injustices being faced by far too many comic creators these days. Or just as every week, I’ll bury my foot in my mouth making wild assumptions, and asking dumb questions. Either way, you’re entertained… right?

For those not following the drama, read a few posts (such as here and here) and catch up. Basically Gary Friedrich got torched by Marvel for having the gall to turn a pocket out to them now that Ghost Rider is making them a few greenbacks. Gary isn’t alone in doing this. The creators of Superman did it. The family of Jack Kirby did it. And even over in the land ruled by Robert Kirkman, his longtime friend is doing it. And in all the cases, there seems to be a very simple precedent: When the check was cut to these creators for their initial involvement, signing it waived their rights to own their creation. Before the 1980s these checks had the contract right there on the check. I assume in the Kirkman case there were contracts and papers and lawyers, etc. In any event, for a small-time creator like myself, it’s scary and sad to read. A large part of me is angry. A smaller, more Jewish part of me is saying “Didn’t they know what they were signing?”

Please note, I am Jewish. So, it’s cool for me to go there.

Honestly, I’m torn on the subject. On one hand you’d figure that the person who did the legwork creating something should see the eventual fruit of their labor, when the money starts flowing. Would Marvel or DC be anywhere near as big as they are right now without the hard work and creativity of guys like Jack Kirby, Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and the rest? The short answer: Hell No!

Creating a character that becomes a cultural icon, even for five minutes, takes real skill. And a suitcase of money doesn’t make Spider-Man’s rogues gallery, or designs Superman’s iconic costume. When the profits from the Spider-Man franchise, or the Nolan Bat-Franchise started rolling in, is it wrong to think that the person who initially created the character be able to see a little cash come their way? Certainly, as a compassionate person, I say of course. I’m not looking to be a communist here, but seriously, are a few shekels sent to the Mr. Friedrich when Nic Cage’s movie sells a few pairs of Underoos really going break Marvel’s bank? I doubt it.

On the other hand… if the paperwork is all signed, these creators are up a creek without a paddle. When I signed on the dotted line for my car, it’s mine. Even if I hate it the second I take the keys from the salesman… I’m stuck with it. Not a perfect metaphor, but I think my point is clear enough, no? When Gary, or any of the aforementioned creators were given their assignments from their editors… was there not a discussion about compensation? Assuming there was, it’s really on the head of said creators to know exactly what they are getting into. At the end of the day, if you sell your soul to the Devil, there’s no way out of Hell. Even if everyone agrees that you got screwed. It’s your name on the dotted line, and it’s your duty to read every word above it.

Face facts, no comic book artist or writer I know is living in a mansion, with extra money flowing out of their pockets. The fact is as I write this very column, I’m scouring Craigslist for freelance gigs in hopes of earning a few more bucks so I don’t have to send my wife back to work, so we can barely pay for daycare for our son (who is only a few weeks old). If Marvel or DC came calling at my door right now and told me they wanted to offer me a book, I’d sign papers so fast they’d need a fire extinguisher to cool my hands off.

Why? Money. I need it. They have it. And I’m safely assuming most anyone working in comics before me was in the same position. And therein lies the problem. The bigwigs behind these publishers have all shared the same evil grin behind their creators’ faces. Having the rights to the characters means raking in all the money from all the avenues open to said characters. Movies, TeeVee, T-shirts, action figures, sippy cups, night lights, toothbrushes, online fan club memberships, cereal, and oh yeah… comics. There’s no doubt in my mind that those with the cash have maintained the mentality that it’s their money, and they’ll hold onto it by any means necessary.

Remember that whole #OccupyWallStreet thing? Well, I’m certain the people behind the people behind the people at both the House of Ideas and the Brothers Warner aren’t in the 99%.

At the root of all this is the human factor. Money doesn’t grow on trees, and when you need to pay a bill, you do what you have to do to pay it. If the check is sitting on your desk, and all that stands between your next meal is your integrity, do you starve with a belly full of pride? Do you go the route of Robert Kirkman or Mike Mignola, and take your million dollar ideas to places where they let you keep your soul? Well, it’s different for everyone in comics. And when the good guys like Paul Levitz (see John’s column) step down, who will be there to fight for the little guys? Cause let’s face it… the second someone turns heels and walks away with their idea, there’s a line out the door and around the block of people waiting for a chance to walk right in.

And I’ll be damned if I’m not one of them.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander Changes The Subject


‘Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark’ producers countersue Julie Taymor

‘Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark’ producers countersue Julie Taymor

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark promotional poster.

Image via Wikipedia

This is never going to end, is it?

Producers of Broadway’s “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” have fired back in their legal fight with one-time director Julie Taymor, claiming the woman who they once called a visionary later failed to fulfill her legal obligations, wrote a “disjointed” and “hallucinogenic” musical, and refused to collaborate on changes when the $75 million show was in trouble. In a countersuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Taymor and her company, LOH Inc., the producers argued that the show “is a success despite Taymor, not because of her.” The lawsuit, which quotes from several private emails from members of the creative team, further exposes the deep rift that has opened between former collaborators who seemed to have reconciled — at least through forced smiles — on the red carpet this summer when the musical finally officially opened.

Remember, these people are arguing about more money than Steve Ditko has ever received for co-creating Spider-Man. So when they talk about what they’ve “created”, feel free to laugh at them.

via ‘Spider-Man’ producers punch back at Julie Taymor – Yahoo! News.

‘Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark’ hits new earning record

‘Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark’ hits new earning record

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark promotional poster.

More money in a week than Steve Ditko has seen from Spider-Man, ever.

Look who’s sporting a big smile behind his mask on Broadway — none other than the once-mocked Spider-Man. The Broadway League reported Tuesday that “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” took in a whopping $2,941,790 over nine performances last week, which is the highest single-week gross of any show in Broadway history.The musical shattered the old record held by “Wicked,” which last January recorded the then-highest one-week take on Broadway with a $2,228,235 haul, though over an eight-show week.

via Broadway’s ‘Spider-Man’ musical earns new record – Yahoo! News.

MIKE GOLD’s Top 10 Comics Of 2011

It’s the end of the year and everybody’s got their Top 10 list, and since I went to journalism school I’m obligated to list mine. I’m looking at titles that were released in 2011 because cover dates are meaningless. I’m not looking at original graphic novels or reprint projects, even though in dollar volume they constitute the majority of my purchases. Besides, original graphic novels are done to very different standards. Finally, some of these titles are done by friends of mine; I refuse to disqualify them because they just might buy me lunch. Having said all that…

#1 – Life With Archie Magazine (Archie)

Top of my list for the second year straight. Two stories – Archie marries Veronica, Archie marries Betty. Parallel worlds which converge, but that’s not why this book is great. There’s very real character development here, layered on personalities that existed for 70 years without it. We watch them grow, not into adults, but as adults. Better still, the most interesting character in both series is Reggie Mantle! Paul Kupperberg writes this, with art from Norm Breyfogle, Fernando Ruiz, Pat and Tim Kennedy and a host of others.

#2 – Tiny Titans (DC)

If you see this as a kid’s comic, that’s great, particularly if you’re a kid. If you see this as a brilliant loving satire of DC Comics and its convoluted universe, that’s great too, particularly if you’re an “adult.” Art Baltazar and Franco are pushing towards 50 issues here, and there ain’t a clunker in the bunch.

#3 – Elric: The Balance Lost (Boom)

Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion has been in the hands of a lot of comics creators and a lot of comics publishers, and the output has been… inconsistent. This latest series is among the very best: all of the various shades of Elric are here, and interweaved through the storyline are very contemporary elements and environs. Good stuff from Chris Roberson and Francesco Biagini.

#4 – Daredevil (Marvel)

Once again, Mark Waid does what he does best: he takes a well-established character that, like all well-established comics characters, has been covered in paint about a dozen too many times and strips it back down to the wall, preserving everything that made the character work while imbuing it with a contemporary environment. On this series, he’s going just that – and he’s doing it better than ever. Penciler Marcos Martin ain’t no slouch, neither. This is a real superhero book.

#5 – Justice League Dark (DC)

This one’s my surprise of the year. While very little of DC’s New 52 answers the question “why bother,” this one takes a bunch of characters of a somewhat mystical nature and thrusts them, Justice League like, into a trauma vastly larger than any one of them… and maybe all of them. Sort of like The Defenders, with all the style and John Constantine’s wit. Peter Milligan’s DC work has been inconsistent for me (I tend to prefer his U.K. work), but I’m glad I checked this one out. Mikel Jann draws the series. Very different… and very good.

#6 – Fly (Zenoscope)

I reviewed Raven Gregory and Eric J’s series about a recreational drug that gives kids the power to fly way back here. I liked it then, I like it now. Of course it’s out in trade paperback, so if you blew me off in August, give it a shot now.

#7 – Red Skull (Marvel)

Retrofitting a backstory onto a well-established character is a gambit that is often ill conceived and, worse, boring. Not this one. Greg Pak and Mirko Colak take us back to the villain’s adolescence where we learn – definitively – where his allegiances truly lie… and why. The fact that it’s got the best covers I’ve seen on a mini-series in a long while doesn’t hurt, either.

#8 – Batgirl (DC)

I don’t have a clue about how this series fits into any continuity, current or past. I’m told it does. What I do know is that this is a series about a young woman who’s trying to reestablish herself as a superhero after enduring traumas that shattered her body and soul. She’s not necessarily great at being a superhero, but she’s giving it all she’s got. This is exactly what I expect out of Gail Simone, and that is a very high standard. Adrian Syaf offers solid and exciting storytelling.

#9 – Action Comics (DC)

I went here because of Rags Morales’ art – I’d buy Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes if Rags drew the box – and I stayed for Grant Morrison’s innovative and engrossing script. This is the all-new young Superman, before he figured out what to wear on the job. It’s set well before the all-new older Superman in his eponymous title. I don’t know how this leads up to that, and I don’t care. This is supposed to hold up on its own, and it does. I’ll get over the slap in history’s face with the numbering (if such lasts); this is the best-produced Superman title in a decade-and-a-half.

#10 – To my friends who didn’t make this list: each of you came in tied for #10. Now go fight it out.

Notice how there aren’t any teevee or movie tie-ins? I never warmed up to that stuff. Not even as a kid. Which means it took me a while to realize Steve Ditko actually drew Hogan’s Heroes.

I have no doubt that within weeks at least two of the above-named will start to suck. Like all commercial media, comic books are subject to the whims of the lords and ladies of irony. But as a professional cynic, these titles and perhaps another half-dozen meet and exceed my bizarrely encrusted standards. Your opinions might differ, and that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re wrong.

Of course not.

Extra: Happy birthday wishes to fellow columnist Marc Alan Fishman, who turns 30 today and, therefore, is old enough to know better. His son turns 0 in about a month.

Extra-Extra: Thanks to Gatekeeper Glenn for saving my life this year.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

Julie Taymor Suing ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark’ Producers

Julie Taymor Suing ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark’ Producers

Julie Taymor at the 2009 premiere of the Metro...

Meanwhile, Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko still doesn’t see a single dime from the show. Or the movies. Or the comics. Or any of a thousand different licenses of the character he co-created. So if we’re going to start talking about copyright infringement, let’s go back a bit, hmmm?

NEW YORK (AP) — Director Julie Taymor sued the producers of “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark” Tuesday, saying they violated her creative rights and haven’t compensated her for the work she put into Broadway’s most expensive musical.

Charles Spada, an attorney who filed the suit on behalf of the Tony Award-winning director, said Tuesday in a statement that “the producers’ actions have left her no choice but to resort to legal recourse to protect her rights.”

Rick Miramontez, the show’s spokesman, was not immediately aware of the copyright infringement lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Taymor was not available to comment.

The lawsuit seeks half of all profits, gains and advantages derived from the sale, license, transfer or lease of any rights in the original Spiderman book along with a permanent ban of the use of Taymor’s name or likeness in connection with a promotional film without her written consent. It also seeks a jury trial to determine her share of profits from the unauthorized use of her book, which the lawsuit said was believed to be in excess of $1 million.

via Julie Taymor sues ‘Spider-Man’ producers – Yahoo! News.

Happy 84th Birthday, Steve Ditko!

And those are just the characters he created for DC. We won’t even mention Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, the Question, Mr. A…

But who, you may still ask, is Steve Ditko? By a handy coincidence, there was an hour-long documentary four years ago asking that very same query…


Long may he wave.

Review: “Holy Terror”

Holy Terror
by Frank Miller

You probably know somebody who changed a lot after 9/11.

That person was reasonably cool, you hung out. Maybe you were in a wedding party together, maybe you knew them from school. But after 9/11, they went extreme. It was like talking to a different person– someone who you would have sworn didn’t have a mean bone in their body suddenly talked about killing anybody wearing a turban. (If you don’t have someone in your life who fits this description– and God, how I envy you– a good example in popular culture would be Dennis Miller, who went from ex-Weekend Update anchor to Fox News Commentator.) Maybe they had a reason, maybe not, but you were shocked by how far they might go.

And if there’s any comic book character who embodies how one bad day can twist you and change you for life, it’s Batman. Which is where the story of Holy Terror really began.


This book, finally in stores this week after numerous delays, was originally conceived as Frank Miller having Batman fight Al-Qaeda, and the serial numbers are barely filed off. We have a caped vigilante who is in no way Batman, a female cat burglar who is in no way Catwoman, and a cop who is in no way James Gordon. Never mind that this is coming out from Legendary Comics, the comic book arm of Legendary Pictures, who is working closely with Warner Brothers on the current Batman films. It’s not Batman.

Sure it’s not.

So we start off with a chase scene between Not-Batman and Not-Catwoman which degenerates into foreplay– think what we had in last week’s Catwoman #1, but even more explicit– which is climaxed (sorry) with an explosion.